Candidate Mitt Romney, government scandals, missing children: What’s spiking (April report)

April proved a political test for election-year candidates. In the GOP contest, one dropped out, and another trembles on the precipice. On the Democratic front, embarrassing agency scandals unearthed a party culture that resulted in a mass of congressional hearings and a game of musical chairs. In other news, the tragedy of missing children became a focus with developments in two cold cases. Here now, the stories that generated buzz across the Web.


Mitt Romney

Romney’s ascendancy

For those who like their politics shaken and not stirred, the run for the GOP presidential nomination has more than obliged. The race downsized from a dozen candidates to four (including the little-known California political consultant Fred Karger, whose campaign slogan was “Fred Who?”). Although former Sen.Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich of Georgia took some rounds, Romney finally lived up to his title as the “presumptive” nominee and decisively added to his delegate count. Santorum conceded before the Pennsylvania primary, the weekend after his daughter Bella, who has received attention for her Trisomy 18 genetic disorder, had the second of two trips to the hospital emergency room.

[Related: Rick Santorum ends presidential campaign conceding to Mitt Romney in phone call]

Gingrich declared he would stay until the convention, but April did not go smoothly for him, as he suffered staff turnover, a fight with Fox News, and even a nip from a penguin. He survived the cruelest month, but his exit comes any day now.

[Related: Gingrich to end presidential campaign on Wednesday]


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Secret Service

Government scandals

You’d need a chart to keep up with the governmental gaffes that came to light this month. The General Services Administration’s housecleaning had already begun when the Office of Inspector General — designed to ensure “program integrity and promoting economy and efficiency in the Agency” — released his audit about a 2010 Nevada staff-building convention on April 2. Besides excessive spending, the investigation exposed how the Western regions were run like a fiefdom and resulted in bipartisan hearings of outrage. “What does it take to actually get fired from the GSA?” asked one Utah Republican about Jeff Neely, the regional commissioner on paid leave. The answer wouldn’t be coming from Neely, who took the Fifth (and sparked searches on Yahoo! once more on that amendment).

Just to keep things even more lively, a hallway argument at a Colombia hotel between an escort and a Secret Service agent resulted in international embarrassment, mass firings, arguments for an agency cleanup (and maybe hiring more female agents in the process), and, of course, more hearings. In an election year, does that mean bad things for candidate Obama? The latest polls haven’t shown much change — and the scandals did make for some good lines at a Saturday night dinner (except for those who weren’t invited).

[Related: More Secret Service officers expected to lose jobs]

[Related: Official Washington treads delicately around Secret Service prostitution scandal)


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Missing child Etan Patz

Missing children

Etan Patz has been called the “first milk-carton child.” In an era of high publicized kidnappings — among them Adam Walsh, whose disappearance prompted his father to launch “America’s Most Wanted” — the campaign to find the missing 6-year-old New York boy prompted President Ronald Reagan to call May 25 National Missing Children’s Day and also spurred dairy companies to feature Patz on cartons. His cold case was reopened after 33 years, with uncertain results.

That was not the only cold case to emerge: Negotiations began to extradite Joran van der Sloot from Peru — where he has been convicted of the murder of Stephany Flores — to the United States, where he’s a suspect in the 2005 disappearance of Natalee Holloway. And tragically, the story of missing children remains in persistent headlines and online searches, from Sierra LaMar in California to Isabel Celis of Arizona.

Yahoo! April 2012
top spiking stories and searches on Yahoo!

Popular “Found” Stories, by category

(high-ranking Y! stories in topic searches)

Popular Y! Front Page Stories, by category Top spiking searches Top search leaders, overall
Update: Jessica Dorrell’s fiance, Josh Morgan, still employed at Arkansas just off the website (SPORTS) Baby discovered alive in morgue (News) Jessica Dorrell (breakout). The alleged paramour for married Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino. The affair came to light after the two had a motorcycle accident. Jessica Dorrell
‘Ridiculously Photogenic Guy’ picture from 10k race goes viral (SPORTS) Uproar over ‘offensive’ class photo (News) Texas Tornadoes (+495,929%). Anywhere from 10 to 18 twisters ripped through the Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area on April 3. No major injuries were reported, but 650 homes were reported damaged. Sarah Palin
Multiple tornadoes cause massive damage across Dallas, Fort Worth and North Texas (News) Soccer player’s inappropriate photo gaffe
iPad Mini (+140,148%): The latest round of speculation was fed by Asian reports that Apple has ordered Samsung screens measuring 7.86 inches diagonally. Angelina Jolie
Obama picture with student at Colorado bar goes viral (News) Fighter’s classy gesture after knockout
(Sports) (+10,546%): The National Archives website crashed April 4, following the release of the 1940 census released., which rolled out the data on the same day, experienced a 175% traffic spike that day. Kate Upton
‘Matilda’ child star: Film acting is not fun (Movies) McDonald’s worker arrested for gross act (Lifestyles) Thomas Kinkade (+8,839%): The ‘Painter of Light’ died April 6. Pippa Middleton
‘Dark Shadows’ Trailer Reveals Johnny Depp’s Vampire Transformation (Movies) Toddler’s tragic death a warning to parents
Tax Day 2012 (+7.584%): Americans had an extra two days before their reckoning with Uncle Sam. George Zimmerman
Coca-Cola Stock Split: Buy Now Says Schoenberger (Finance) Child Stars Then and Now (Movies) One World Trade (+7,515%): Images of the building that will replace the Twin Towers is set to be Manhattan’s tallest skyscraper.. Dancing with the Stars
BUSTED: Wal-Mart Caught In Massive Bribery Scandal That Goes All The Way To The Top
Why ‘Matilda’ child star quit acting (MOVIES) Perfect Hard Boiled Eggs (+6,776%): Among the many Easter searches Krysten Ritter
Taylor Swift’s Baffled Reaction To ACM Awards Joke (Music) Christina Aguilera’s brazen bodysuit (TV) Anders Behring Breivik (+5,172%): The trial of the Norweigian man accused of killing started this month. Thomas Kinkade
Beyoncé Shares Stunning, Makeup-Less Bikini Pic!
Hewitt body part takes over TV interview (TV) Biggest Dog (+5,153%): A Great Dane weighing in at 230 pounds claimed the world title. Robin Gibb